A US start-up hoping to develop the world's first electric-powered business aircraft has received a boost from fixed-base operator Jetex. The Dubai-based private company is investing in Wright Electric's project and has committed to install charging infrastructure across its 30-strong airport network.
Jetex says the partnership with Wright Electric – which plans to use battery packs with "advanced cell technology" – makes it the "first general aviation company globally to champion and support electric aircraft for short-haul flights". The services provider adds that the proposed type's range of 292nm (540km) means passengers could fly between FBOs in Dubai and Muscat, or Malaga and Casablanca on a single charge.
It is Wright Electric's second tie-up with a major aviation brand. In September 2017, UK low-cost airline EasyJet said it was teaming with the company to "support the goal for short-haul flights to be operated by all-electric planes" as part of a strategy to "progressively decarbonise and reduce noise from aviation operations".
Jetex president and chief executive Adel Mardini says his company is "setting a new standard for innovation". He adds: "We envision having the aircraft and infrastructure at all our FBOs."
Wright Electric chief executive and founder Jeffrey Engler says: "We knew right away Jetex was the kind of company we wanted to work with. They have an innovative mindset and don't like to settle for the status quo. They are as excited about new technology as we are."
Several high-profile companies are working on their own electric aircraft projects. At the Elevate conference in Los Angeles earlier this month, Uber unveiled plans to run a network of electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft in cities across the world from 2023. Embraer, Pipistrel and Karem Aircraft also revealed concepts they are working on.
Late last year, Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens said they were working on a hybrid-electric test aircraft - with an electric motor replacing the gas turbine during the flight. They aim to fly a demonstrator by 2020.